Colibri has enjoyed a wonderful experience with MHDA-organized events, including the Wine Stroll, Brew Crawl and Safe Trick O’ Treat

Photo by Marty Cheek
Ellie Honl shows off different mat options.

By Suman Ganapathy

Morgan Hill Downtown Association members Colibri Art & Framing and F45 Training epitomize the positivity, adaptability and grit required for sustainability during the pandemic and beyond. Both businesses receive the support of our incredible community.

Artist-run galleries have shaped American art irrevocably. Colibri, in downtown Morgan Hill for the past 10 years, was recently renovated to add an art gallery showing original work of 20 to 25 artists mainly from the Bay Area, including five from South County. The elegant and eloquent gallery director, Ellie Honl, an artist herself, moved here four years ago with her husband after spending an afternoon downtown, and falling in love with the vibrancy, and the fun-loving and friendly locals. They immediately set about making Morgan Hill their home.

Honl is excited about the possibilities. “We want to be an art resource for the South County area. We would love people to be immersed in great original art, mingle and hang out,” she said.

If you missed the successful pre-holiday soft opening in November, the upcoming gallery reception July 24 is the perfect occasion to attend.

Exciting future plans lie ahead with the construction of a two-story art gallery, café, and flexible space to host art workshops for children and adults, in the lot next to Betto’s Bistro.

Colibri has enjoyed a wonderful experience with MHDA-organized events, including the Wine Stroll, Brew Crawl and Safe Trick O’ Treat that have resulted in many new customers. They will participate in the MHDA Brew Crawl Sept. 11. Joining MHDA means having a voice to help guide future decisions to make downtown even more vivacious, Honl said.

F45 Training on Depot Street is owned by locals Paige and Paul Kepner, who moved here in 2015 with their three children. They opened a studio at the end of June 2020 to be deeper entrenched in this unique community they love and call home.

Opening in the midst of the pandemic with adapted outdoor workouts instead of their planned April grand opening meant a slower start financially than expected. Yet the Kepners are incredibly grateful for the support shown by the community.

“It was a rollercoaster, but everyone stuck by our side and pivoted with us, outside, inside, rules about masks, etc. It’s what makes Morgan Hill unique,” Paige said.

Empowering people through movement and being an inclusive place where everyone is welcome is their mission. “Many members had a difficult year but found solace here, even getting off medications for stress and anxiety. That’s why we do this — to help people’s lives improve, not just physical health but their mental health too.”

Paige added, misty-eyed, that receiving holiday cards with messages like “in the darkest days of our lives, you were the light” makes it all worthwhile. F45 plans to keep growing the membership and continuing to do good for Morgan Hill. In April, a fundraiser hosted by F45 with its members raised $7,500 for the Morgan Hill Magical Bridge project. They joined MHDA to be further ingrained in the community, and look forward to being part of MHDA events.

Suman Ganapathy

Suman Ganapathy is a Morgan Hill Downtown Association board member. She is also a Leadership Morgan Hill Class of 2018 alumnus, President-elect AAUW Morgan Hill, volunteer docent with the San Jose Museum of Art ‘Let’s Look at Art’ program, and Vice-Chair, Morgan Hill Library, Culture and Arts Commission.


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